A new survey of VA employees now shows a majority of VA employees believe their leaders are honest, increasing from 46 percent to 54 percent since 2017.

Improvement is always good even if the initial bar is quite low, and it does not get much lower than the majority of employees believing their leaders are dishonest. How many of you would work at a company where the majority of employees believed their bosses were dishonest?

At least the agency is moving in the right direction.

For the past two years, VA ranked as the second worse place to work in the federal government out of 18 agencies with more than 15,000 employees. The survey results displayed above show less VA employees fear reprisal, more employees trust their supervisor, and more employees reported receive positive recognition for doing good jobs.

“VA employees are talented and committed professionals who rally behind a great mission,” Wilkie said. “Veterans deserve a VA workforce that demonstrates pride in its work that results in strong customer service, and the survey shows we are making important progress in that direction.”

GovExec

GovExec noted the following improvements in a story covering the survey:

While overall job satisfaction increased just 3 percentage points from 2017, according to VA’s All Employee Survey, which incorporates the questions from the annual, government-wide Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey, satisfaction with the department went up by twice that to 60 percent. More than seven in 10 VA employees trust their supervisor, up 7 percentage points over 2017. A majority of employees now believe that senior leaders maintain honesty and integrity, up 8 percentage points. President Trump earlier this year fired then-Secretary David Shulkin amid alleged ethical violations.

Takeaways

The survey results suggest steps taken over the past few years to improve agency culture have started to take hold. While the improvements are obviously still shy of the end goal, substantive increases in employee satisfaction are proven to increase overall customer services. And, better customer service should no doubt improve how veterans are treated.

Assuming the survey statistics are not manipulated beyond what was previously presented for 2016 and 2017, let’s hope the improvements continue to eat away at the pervasive anti-veteran culture that resulted in the wait list scandal and other problems in the past decade.

Starting in 2014, former VA Secretary Robert McDonald emphasized culture improvement with his iCare values pledge and performance systems stemming from that. Agency leadership also focused on incorporating Disney customer service techniques.

At the time, I thought the system was absurd, and maybe it was a little, but cultural improvements are now growing out of that period and through subsequent improvements to those models. When you are at rock bottom, which VA basically was, the only place to go is up.

I hope for the sake of the veterans the agency serves that the improvements continue, and hopefully at a faster rate than to this point.

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19 COMMENTS

  1. Unless there is proof showing that the exact same questions have been asked and those questions have been in the same order on the survey, the results are questionable. The Secretary should be asked further questions and the survey needs to be further examined.

  2. Senior Cabinet level Whack-A-Mole from the Energy Department being shifted to the VA. He also played a role in the Trump Russia Investigation. He became embroiled in the Russia scandal when The New York Times reported in May that he told the Senate Judiciary Committee that he believed he had received an email in 2016 from George Papadopoulos, telling the Trump campaign that the Russians had damaging information about Hillary Clinton.

    “Senior Energy Dept. aide moving to Veterans Affairs”
    by Andrew Restuccia and Ted Hesson, Politico, 10/18/2018

    “John Mashburn, a former Trump White House official, is leaving the Energy Department for a senior position at the Department of Veterans Affairs, according to three people familiar with the move.

    Mashburn, a senior adviser to Energy Secretary Rick Perry, is stepping down after six months on the job. One of the people said he’s joining the VA in a high-level role advising the head of the department, Robert Wilkie.

    Mashburn, a veteran of conservative policy circles, served as the policy director of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign. He then worked on Trump’s presidential transition team and subsequently became deputy cabinet secretary when Trump ascended to the White House.”

    Full Article At: “https://www.politico.com/story/2018/10/18/energy-department-aide-va-915045”

  3. “Blocking VA documents release protects ‘shadow rulers’ — not vets”
    VA Secretary Wilkie should instead be working to build trust in the agency.
    By Editorial Board Star Tribune, October 19, 2018

    “U.S. Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert Wilkie doesn’t want any sunlight on his agency’s “shadow rulers.” By blowing off a recent congressional document request, Wilkie is blocking the public from determining whether a secretive trio of outsiders is calling the shots at the VA.

    Wilkie was just confirmed by the Senate in late July. His handling of the data request from the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee raises serious questions about his judgment so early in his tenure. After the scandal involving clinic wait times, public faith in the VA is lagging. Yet Wilkie’s stunning refusal last month to turn over the documents undermines trust even further, creating the damning perception that his priority isn’t veterans but protecting the three outsiders, all of whom belong to President Donald Trump’s glitzy Mar-a-Lago club.”

    Full Article At: “http://www.startribune.com/blocking-va-documents-release-protects-shadow-rulers-not-vets/498070451/”

  4. RAND Corp. reporting: Same VA Employees were asked the following questions to further support and qualify their beliefs that VA Leadership Is HONEST:

    1) Do you honestly believe in Santa Clause and do AFGE employees think your his elves for veterans?

    2) Do VA Crows actually fly in circles directing Veterans to their CHOICE?

    3) If the Easter Bunny was deathly sick and had proof in-hand that he delivered Easter Eggs in Vietnam in late 60’s-early 70’s, and was exposed to Agent Orange, would Easter Bunny be considered service connected enough to get medical care or would the Canteen Cafeteria have rabbit with a side of circling flies on the menu that day?

    • namnibor,
      Check out what some school was adding to the chili! It was Kangaroo meat! The head cook defended himself by claiming the meat “…was more nutritious and lean than beef!”
      The school in question was in the Midwest somewhere. The head cook was recently fired for it!
      I’m not making this shit up!
      An Oct 10th, 2018 letter was sent out to the parents!

      • Kangaroo Kale Chili Con Carne:
        A lower in fat, high in fiber chili recipe that tastes amazing . . .

        Ingredients (serves 4 people):

        2 tsps of olive oil
        500g of kangaroo mince meat
        2 garlic cloves
        1 tin of red kidneys (no added salt)
        1 handful of kale
        1 large red onion
        1 large capsicum (bell pepper)
        1 large carrot
        1.5 cups of brown rice

        For the Sauce:

        1 tsp of paprika
        1/2 tsp of cracked pepper
        2 tsps of chili powder (add more if you want it hotter)
        1 tsp of ground cumin
        1/2 tsp of dried marjoram
        1 tbsp of tomato sauce (reduced sodium)
        1 can of chopped tomatoes (no added salt tin)
        2 tbsps of tomato puree

        Add when serving:

        A few dollops of low fat plain yogurt
        Handful of fresh coriander

        Method:
        Pop the rice cooker on, or start cooking the rice in a saucepan.

        Heat the oil in a frying pan or wok and stir fry the garlic, onion and kidney beans until the beans turn slight crispy.

        Add the mince meat and cook until slightly brown.

        While this is cooking, chop up the carrots and kale and add to the pan.

        Cook until the veg becomes soft.

        Add the tinned tomatoes and herbs and spices, including tomato sauce and puree.

        Cook until the tomatoes become soft and the meat soaks up some of the water.

        When the rice and the pan ingredients are cooked, serve on a plate with a dollop of yogurt and sprinkle of fresh coriander.

      • School fires cook who served chili with kangaroo meat to students
        CBS/AP October 19, 2018, 9:48 AM

        “POTTER, Neb. — The cook who mixed kangaroo meat into the chili he made for students at a Nebraska Panhandle school has lost his job. Potter-Dix Schools Superintendent Mike Williams said Thursday the junior/senior high school’s head cook in Potter, Kevin Frei, no longer works for the district.

        Williams said in a Wednesday letter to parents that Frei told him he’d augmented the chili’s beef on Oct. 10 with kangaroo meat because it is lean and nutritious. Williams says the meat came from a food distributor, which must meet federal requirements.

        Williams says he doesn’t think the kangaroo meat was unhealthy or dangerous, but it was “without a doubt not a normal staple of our diet.”

        He apologized for any anxiety the exotic ingredient may have caused and vowed that such incidents will not recur.”

        Full Article At: “https://www.cbsnews.com/news/potter-nebraska-school-fires-cook-who-served-chili-with-kangaroo-meat-to-students/”

      • I should add that it was at the Panhandle School. Who knew that the state of Nebraska had a school of Panhandling that served Kangaroo meat for lunch.

        Sounds like the Panhandler’s lunch menu belongs at a Road Kill dinner in Australia.

      • Seymore,
        In the article I read, Kangaroo meat was three times the cost of chicken breast ($12.50 vs $6) respectfully.
        That, and the way the head cook defended himself by claiming the meat was more lean and nutritious for the students was kinda not helping his case!

  5. I believe it was Mr. Will Rogers who said something to the effect of “statistics” are bullshit!
    That said;
    In my opinion, I’ve worked for some real assholes in my lifetime! Whenever a “form” was handed out, you better believe the workers NEVER wanted to get on the “bad side of the upper management”!
    So, of course, upper management/echelon received good/great scores! That’s only human nature to keep one’s job secured!

    Mr. Will Rogers also had many great
    “one-liners” for our government! And, they weren’t polite!

    • The VA Titanic’s Pokemon Poop Deck Collectible Card Set is nothing but a sequence of jokers in the stacked deck against Veterans. So shuffling the deck is only the equiv. of more adding icebergs in VA Titanic’s path.

  6. Hmmm, they send surveys to the employees but rarely if ever send any to every Vet that uses the VA? I know I’ve never gotten one asking about problems I encounter. Seems like some fluff to say, see “Our employees are starting to like it here”. Whoopee. Kind of like, if our a little over half of our employees are happy then the Vets must be happy type of survey. Not to mention, I have no doubt they have them marked in some way to see who the complainers are…

  7. Alpo chili is a favorite at potlucks.

    I call B.S. on that survey crap!
    As a former gov-mint employee (36 years) employees are told ” confidential, no way to id you, will not be used in contract negotiations, yada, yada.” Right. damm things are coded to the office, and supervision was tracking which employee got which survey….
    Lot’s of pressure for total participation, and a happy, smiley, positive response.

    just a File 319 vet.
    which is? The retired record section of the VA. that’s correct, I was a DEAD vet for 35 plus years.
    I did have a dav vso, (1970’s) worthless.
    the Order of the Purple Heart has sent me a drop dead letter. “To many claims, and appeals, all done without our help”. those scumbags did not do anything for me but tell me “your name, ss#, claim # are in the system, we can’t access anything”.

  8. And after finally getting med. records after 43 years, which are incomplete, I find another vet’s medical records in my file.

  9. The majority of VA employees are COMPLICIT in screwing over veterans and lining their pockets with paychecks for sitting on their butts and twirling all day….

    So of course they trust their leadership – because they all are garbage and like minded people trust each other.

    The “leadership” hires people who are losers like them.

    So sorry, no sale. The VA is what it is now because a cleansing has not taken place.

    To effect real change, all management and SES need to go – because management sets the tone for the workplace culture. Once you get effective, efficient and educated/qualified management – who actually give a hoot about veterans AND give them the power to remove any employees who try to defy them and/or attempt a mutiny, then yes, the VA “may” be on the path for real change…

    So sorry, these surveys are flawed because they reflect VA employees who are in bed with corrupt management…No sale.

Comments are closed.